Each week of Advent we are invited to contemplate a different theme: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. We do so through the lens of ancient texts (this year through the likes of the prophet Isaiah). The texts stretch our understanding of each theme beyond shallow stereotypes. They remind us that hope is not hope, unless it is hope for the whole world.

Hope that is not for all, is for none.

Peace that is not for all, is for none.

Joy that is not for all, is for none.

Love that is not for all, is for none.

The reason, “if they are not for all, they are for none”, is because of our interconnectedness and interdependence. The ancient texts set us free from the false frame of individualism, releasing us from solitary confinement to enter communal solidarity where justice reigns.

Contemplation cannot be rushed. Unlike other things, we are unable to squeeze an hour on contemplation into fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes of contemplation is at most fifteen minutes of contemplation. Nothing more.

The dictionary is clear: To contemplate is to look at or view with continued attention; to survey; to observe or study thoughtfully; to consider thoroughly; think fully or deeply about; to have as a purpose (intend); to have in view as a future event; to think studiously; consider deliberately.

Advent’s invitation for us to contemplate hope, peace, joy and love, is therefore first an invitation for us to carve out time to consider them thoroughly with continued attention.